rare and forgotten experimental music

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ingram Marshall - The Fragility Cycles

Ingram Marshall has been active since the mid 70s, and this here is his first album. He's one of the earlier second-generation minimalists, along with John Adams, and studied under early electronic music greats Vladimir Ussachevsky and Morton Subotnick.

This LP was recorded in 1977 (at Charlemagne Palestine's New York City loft!), and released on Marshall's own IBU records.

The Fragility Cycles was a semi-improvised piece for live performance, performed solo by Marshall. It's played on gambuh (a balinese bamboo flute), Tcherepnin synthesizer, tape, voice, a delay system, and some percussion instruments. The end result is a beautiful, droning swirl of sound. The piece is very textural and slow, with sounds meshing with one another beautifully.

Marshall has continued to explore fairly similar sounds, his relatively well-known piece "Fog Tropes" for brass sextet is a beautiful, droning classic. I've got a couple of more recent CDs of his, and it's all excellent, definitely worth checking out.

I believe some of the music from this LP has been rereleased on CD on IKON and Other Early Works on New World records, but I don't think it has the entire Fragility cycles album, which is a shame because the whole thing flows beautifully as one piece of music.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alvin Curran - Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri

Alvin Curran was one of the members of the Musica Elettronica Viva collective, along with Fred Rzewski, Richard Teitelbaum and others.

Curran's first solo album, Songs and Views of the Magnetic Garden, was originally released in 1975, and consisted of largely improvised live electronic and acoustic drone music. Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri was released a short while later, and continues in a similar vein, with more soundscapey tapes, vintage synths, and acoustic instruments.

Side one starts with recordings of a cat purring, and then goes through a long series of electronic synthy drone bits, with occasional soundscape recordings underneath the synths.
Side two goes through a lot of change in its 28 minutes, starting with Alexis Rzewski speaking (I'm guessing he was Fred's young son). It goes into some toy piano, then quite a bit of super-fast minimalist piano playing, in the vein of LaMonte Young & Charlemagne Palestine's piano music. The piece ends on some nice improvised jazzy piano, which fades into electronic chimes and tapes of dogs barking.

While Songs and Views was rereleased on Catalyst, a subsidiary of BMG, in the mid-90s, Fiori Chiari has remained out of print for the past 30 + years, never released digitally. Shame. It would be really great if someone out there collected all of these 70s Curran LPs together and rereleased them.

New World records has, in fact, collected all of Curran's 70s LPs and rereleased them, in a 3CD set. Looks amazing. Took down the download link since this is now commercially available and I don't want to bite into their sales. Go check out the set HERE